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Attendees started lining up at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday (Jan. 19), waiting for the 9 a.m. opening of the 36th Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show. The event, held annually on the vast acreage of the Arizona Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Sonora Desert, runs through Jan. 27.

“It took them five minutes just to get in the gates,” said Kenny King, the show’s founder and manager. 

This year, King expects 100,000-150,000 visitors to walk through those gates over the nine-day event, all eager to experience the famous “Big Tent” and browse the over 350 exhibitor booths.

The show offers a truly unique venue, with a sea of RVs stretching out into the desert in every direction, ATVs driving alongside the roads, and dazzling flags lining nearly every street. In turn, the event draws in a crowd that is distinctly different from traditional RV shows.

“The Quartzsite Show is a little bit of a different crowd than we’re typically used to,” said Billy DiDonato, technical sales representative with Truma North America. “It’s a lot of DIY, adventurous people, and a little more eclectic. People aren’t really here to see the latest and greatest RVs. They are looking to see how they can make their existing RVs a lot better — products like our AquaGo on-demand water heater. We fit in perfectly in here.” 

Denis Phares, CEO of Battle Born Batteries and a first-time attendee to the Quartzsite Show, also noticed a change from the typical show crowd. “We have been to a lot of trade shows and this show is unique,” Phares said. “I’ve never seen a show like this. It’s just been so crowded with so many interested and enthusiastic people. It’s been a great venue for us to talk about our lithium-ion batteries and really just socialize, too.” 

The Quartzsite Show hosts many non-RV-related vendors and has neighboring shows within walking distance that create a carnival-like atmosphere of shopping excitement. “Sales have been fantastic; we keep selling out. It’s almost a flea market type vibe,” said Phares with a smile. “We just came from CES in Vegas, which was kind of corporate- and industry-oriented, but this is just more fun.”

The sheer number of RVs and RVers may seem surprising to some in this little town that seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but King pointed out that Quartzsite lies in the middle of four popular winter locations: Yuma, Ariz., Phoenix, Ariz., Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Palm Springs, Calif. 

“It couldn’t be in a better central spot for snowbirds,” King said. “If you can find a larger gathering of RVs and RVers anywhere on this Planet Earth, I’d like to see it.”